Steve Eckelkamp thrives on challenges. He has kayaked the Amazon and set a world speed record for canoeing the length of the Mississippi River (1980). Taking over the helm of Florida Atlantic University's women's and men's program in 1989 must have seemed like an afternoon ride across a pond in a paddle boat. However, his FAU journey has been just as progressive.
Eckelkamp assumed the helm of FAU's women's swim program in 1989. The team improved from 16th nationally to ninth in just one season and finished second the following season. Over the next four years, FAU completed its Division II competition never finishing out of the top three. Along the way, Eckelkamp coached five All-Americans in 1990, eight in 1991, seven in 1992 and 10 in 1993. The women's team continues to hold three, out of a possible 18, NCAA Division II records.
The following season, FAU made its move to Division I, and the men's swim program identified itself on the national scene in 1996 with a 20th place finish at the NCAA Championship. Men's swimming was FAU's first male sport to qualify for an NCAA post-season championship. Not only did FAU qualify; the program captured the National Championship in the 200 free and finished in the top five in both the 100 and 500 free.
The Owls made their latest appearance at the NCAA Championships in 2006. On the women's side, FAU earned two fourth-place finishes, while a member of the men's team advanced to the `B' final of the 100-yard breaststroke.
In 1997, FAU opened an Olympic-size pool, under Eckelkamp's direction, which has drawn collegiate swim teams from throughout the nation to South Florida. The pool also served as the site for the 1999 National Independent Conference meet.
Prior to coming to FAU, Eckelkamp was an assistant men's coach at the University of Minnesota (1985-89). While at Minnesota, he had a total of 16 NCAA qualifiers, and he helped to elevate the men's program from 31st nationally in 1988 to 11th in 1989. He coached two All-Americans and saw seven individuals earn honorable mention All-American status in 1989.
He began his collegiate coaching experience at the junior college level, in 1981, as an assistant coach for the perennial national champion Indian River Community College. He helped coach the men's team to an NJCAA National Championship in 1982, '83 and '84 and the women's team captured the national title in 1983 and 1984 and finished second in 1982. From 1981-84, IRCC earned 79 NJCAA All-American awards. Eckelkamp was elevated to IRCC's head coach for the 1984-85 season. Both the men's and women's teams repeated as national champion and 27 earned All-American honors in 1985.
He served as a USA National team staff member for the 1991 LEN Cup (Rome, Italy) and the 1993 Long Distance Training Camp. Eckelkamp worked as an Olympic Festival "West" staff member for the 1995 Olympic Festival Championship team. He was on the World University staff for the USA World University Games in Italy (1991). In 1998, Eckelkamp coached seven athletes at the World Cup and he was a Goodwill Games staff member in 2001 (Brisbane, Australia). His latest coaching experience overseas came in 2006 when he was a member of the coaching staff for the National Team Short-Court Championships in Shanghai, China.
He is married to the former Lisa Edwards, who hails from Roydon, England. They live in Boca Raton with their son, Yuri.